Table Saw Buying Guide for Every Budget

Last modified on September 17, 2022
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table saw

The table saw is a very useful tool that can be used to create a variety of cuts, all of which make it a versatile tool.

If you are serious about woodworking, you should learn to rely on a table saw. Table saws are effective for doing cross, rip, miter, bevel, and compound cuts, to name a few. You may also add accessories to it to make it more practical. The options are unlimited.

Not all table saws are the same, nor are all table saws suitable for all jobs. If you have a new project that needs to be done, make sure your table saw is capable of it. So, what kind of table saw should you buy?

Table saws have many different types of features, so it is important to determine exactly what features you need. This will narrow down your search and help you find the perfect table saw for your project.

Table Saw 101

The blade is fixed in a fixed position. To make cuts, the operator pushes the workpieces past the blade. A table saw is far more capable of making long, straight rip cuts (along the grain) and repeated cross-cuts (across the grain) than handheld circular saws. Additionally, people also use this tool for miter and bevel cuts (angled cuts).

Major Parts of A Table Saw

  • Riving Knife: It keeps the workpiece from pinching the blade, and the presence of this lowers the risk of the boards kicking back toward the operator.
  • Rip fence: A rip fence is a bar attached to a table saw that acts as a guide for the workpiece as it passes through the blade.
  • Anti-Kickback Pawls: In case of a workpiece kicking back toward the operator, anti-kickback pawls grab the work piece.
  • Bevel system: The bevel system is a way to make bevel cuts by tilting the blade.
  • Blade Guard: It guards against dust, debris, blade kickback, and other hazards.
  • Miter Gauge: A tool/guide for positioning work pieces past the blade so that cuts can be made at specific angles.

Portable table saws are ideal for framing, deck construction, and also usage in small shops. Stationary table saws are permanent installations with a larger table and additional functionality.

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What Type Table Saw Should You Buy?

Table saws are of different types but can be broadly classified into five categories. The following is a summarized description of the various types of table saws:

  • Bench Top – Benchtop table saws are suitable for small projects and DIYers. However, they are relatively underpowered and not really suitable for heavy duty work.
  • Jobsite – Jobsite table saws are by far the most popular type of table saw out there, but there are a few reasons why. They are easy to move around, they cost less than other models, and they are more effective at cutting materials.
  • Contractor saws – Contractors were once the kings of the table saw market, but inferior table saws are performing better than this type. Contractors are almost dead now because the ability to perform certain tasks is not as important, and portability is more important than power.
  • Cabinet – Cabinet table saws are top-of-the-line table saws, with high-performance specs. Their price reflects that, but, unlike many higher-quality table saws, these saws can stand up to heavy use.
  • Hybrid – While cabinet table saws are sometimes considered the pinnacle of woodworking saws, there are a few downsides. They are large and occupy a lot of space. Further, they can cost thousands of dollars. Hybrid woodworking saws, on the other hand, are able to offer the benefits of both cabinet saws and table saws. These saws deliver the same accuracy as a cabinet saw and around 90% of the cutting power of table saws. Hybrids are often less expensive than cabinet saws, but more expensive than portable table saws.

Things to look For in a Table saw

Lately, a buyer’s market has emerged for table saws. As a result, you can find them on sale almost everywhere. From big-box stores to online suppliers, several services offer better saws at lower price points than ever before. But with such competitive pricing, it’s important to know what you want to avoid getting stuck with a lemon that needs more work than it’s worth.

Table saw is a versatile tool that can improve your efficiency in your workshop. The only thing that you need to know is how to get the best table saw in your budget. This is an essential step that everyone should take before buying any tool.

From build quality and type of deck to the power of the rotating motor, there are certain points your need to consider first. Take a look at a few important that you need to consider before buying a new table saw.

1. Build Quality of Your Table Saw

There are various qualities of table saw machines in the market designed for different types of work output. Finding the best build with better quality is certainly an important aspect to look out for. Ranging from high four figures to only a couple of thousands in dollars, you can easily get different table saws in the market.

To find the best table saw, go through the quality of different materials and components used. Make sure your table saw comprises good quality materials that reduce vibration to offer precise cuts. Commonly, stainless steel, plastic, cast iron, and aluminum are widely used materials in a table saw. 

Among all these options, cast-iron-built machines offer the best vibration reduction. However, a table saw built with cast iron is quite expensive and heavy. The cheapest among all table saw are made of plastic material and the least durable in absorbing vibrations.

On the other hand, aluminum and stainless steel offer the best vibration-reducing capacity. Additionally, aluminum-made table saws are lighter and more portable.

2. Power of The Motor

Most of the new table saw offered in the market are equipped with 2 to 5 HP motors and to provide smooth cut with less vibration. If you need more power, you can go for high-power motors with better performance. However, this is going to cost you more than usual. Therefore, before making any purchase decision, it is always good to go through the power and amps of your table saw. Here’s is an idea about the power of the table saw machine:

  • If you are a hobbyist or a DIY projects creator, then a 2-Hp motor is more than sufficient. A table saw with a 2 Hp motor with the current range of 15 Amps will work just perfect to meet your needs. You can easily get a table saw with these power specifications and use it on a 120-volt socket.
  • For more professional workers, a high-power motor is a must to facilitate endless working performance. For example, the power of a table saw for professional works ranges from 3 to 5 horsepower. The amps of your motor you can decide as per your requirements. High power motors will require a 220-volt socket for working.

3. Motor and Drive Configuration

The motor is one of the important components of a new table saw for best working. There are different types of motors available in the market. First, however, you need to know what kind of motor will work with your machine. If you are looking for a small portable table saw, then a direct drive motor with lower power is suggested. Generally, there are two different types of motor/drive combinations available.

1. Direct-drive Saw

This table saw works by directly powering the blade by transferring all the generated power. If you have a portable table saw, then there are high chances that it contains a direct-drive saw. This motor/drive combination can offer great power in a small package despite making extra noise.

2. Belt-drive Saw

The second option on this list is belt-drive saws featuring an induction motor and a belt for power transfer. When the motor rotates, it moves a belt that is connected to the blade for rotating it. By offsetting the motor away from the sawdust, the design helps the motor to last longer. These motors are comparatively quieter and give clean cuts even for high-density materials.

Among these two options, the belt-drive set-up offers more power, but it also requires more maintenance. They require regular checking and are best suited to professional workers.

4. Size and portability

The size of your new table saw is also a big factor in judging whether it’s a perfect tool for you or not. If the tale saw is too large and heavy, it is not recommended for small-time users or DIY jobs. On the other hand, ensure that your table saw has enough storage space where you can keep all the accessories and other things needed to perform well.

For professional-grade work, you need to analyze the space available in your workshop and then choose accordingly. For example, if you are regularly on the move, a small-size, low-weight table saw will be perfect. Many hybrid table saws in the market can be customized as per your requirements.

5. Blade Size

The size of the table saw blade is also an essential aspect of table saws to consider. Different table saws are designed for different types of material and use. For general purpose an 8-1/4-inch blade is perfect. The blade must be big enough to cut more than the required cut depth on the material.

To get a clean-cut, the depth and the width of the cut should be large enough. Most of the table saws in the market use a 10-inch table saw for getting deeper cuts.

  • With a 10-inch blade, you can get cut off around 2-1/4 inches at 45 degrees and 3-1/2 inches at 90 degrees.
  • The other blade option of an 8-1/4-inch table saw gives comparatively lower cuts of 1-3/4 inches at 45 degrees and 2-1/5 inches of maximum depth at 90 degrees.

The larger the size, the better it is for performance in your workshop. However, it is important to know that the bigger the blade more will be the noise. This is a common phenomenon in bigger table saws, and you can adjust it by using a lower-speed setting.

The trick to double the cutting depth and get proper measurement is by working on the opposite facet of the workpiece. However, this method might be more time-consuming and could not provide consistency with the results.

If you have a 10-inch table saw set up, you can either have a 10 inch or 8-1/4 inch blade. As you can expect, 10-inch blades are more costly than their counterparts 8-1/4 inch blades of equal quality. If you are tight on budget, you can always go with a smaller blade for your table saw.

6. Maximum Rip Capacity

The usual blade with the table saw has a rip capacity of around 32″. The maximum cutting depth of the blades depends on many factors, such as material type and thickness. Someone looking for a table saw for normal work purposes has the best bet with a cabinet saw that comes with an extension.

On the contrary, for experts in this field, the minimum rip capacity is crucial. There are table saws in the market that offer a decent amount of maximum rip cut on the left side for left-handed users.

7. Rip Fence Quality

Some table saws are designed especially for professionals, while some are perfect tools for both professionals and hobbyist. A quality rip fence is one of the most important features of a table saw that separates a professional-level machine from a normal one. The rip fence is generally made of aluminum, steel, or plastic that offers great rigidity and strong performance.

The other factor you must look for when buying is compatibility with most table saws in the market. You must need to purchase them separately as part of your premium selection. This will be great if you plan on using your new tool for all kinds of jobs in future projects.

8. Safety Features

A table saw can easily turn quite dangerous if not all precautions are ensured. This is where the role of safety features comes into play. When using a professional-grade power tool, you need to ensure that it comes with safety provisions like a blade guard. It is always necessary to buy a table saw with enough safety features. A brake can also be helpful if you need to work with a blade or do any other action while still spinning.

Another big factor in the safety segment is a riving knife or a splitter. The riving knife is a safety device, and it is present in most table saws. When you need to remove the blade, you can simply place your hand on the riving knife, and it will help in safely removing the blade from the working surface.

A splitter is designed to keep the path for the chips to move away from the blade. You can find these two safety measures on almost all professional table saws in the market. Another amazing addition includes Anti-kickback pawls to prevent sudden kickbacks. Finally, there are SawStop table saws that offer blade brakes that stop the blade instantaneously.

9. Dust Collection System

A dust collection system is a must if you need to use your table saw for long hours. Many table saws on the market have permanent dust collection systems. The collapsible and portable ones come with detachable dust collection systems.

The importance of an effective dust collection system lies in its ability to reduce the amount of debris and wood chips that fly away from the machine when it is working. As a result, it greatly reduces the cleanup time and improves the health safety against respiratory diseases and allergies caused by wood particles in the air.

10. Accessories

The base unit of a table saw is a very important part of the machine. However, many accessories come along with it. Some of them are designed for improving performance, while some can be used for better functionality and precision. Take a look at a few essential accessories of a table saw:

  • Hand wheels for controlling
  • Table extensions
  • On/off switches
  • Height adjustment tool
  • Dust collection chambers
  • Extension table for enhancing rip capacity

Many accessories are available in the market, including rip fences, miter gauges, push sticks, zero-clearance fence extensions, blade wrenches, and anti-kickback devices. All these additional accessories will help you use your table saw in a better way to gain more accuracy and usability.

Other Crucial Considerations for Your Table Saw

1. Start by Considering the Type of Work Will Be Done

The size and weight of the tool will always be your prime factors while selecting one. Also, you must consider the type of work you do in which your table saw can complement your needs.

You should start by knowing whether you are looking for one for cutting lumber, for basic carpentry, or more advanced jobs such as cabinet making. 

  • For professional workers, the Jobsite table saw is the best option as it comes with a rolling stand. (e.g. SKILSAW SPT99-11 or DEWALT DWE7491RS).
  • For those who love to do DIY projects at home, small size table saws which are portable like SKIL TS6307-00 or DEWALT DWE7485 are perfect options.
  • If you are looking to get more professional-grade output, then make sure to avoid any hybrid or cabinet table saw.

The best way is to find out the kind of projects you plan to do with the tool and then select the machine accordingly.

2. Total Space Requirement Your Workshop

Another very important aspect to consider is the workspace of your table saw. If you have a very large workshop with enough space to set up your machine, then, by all means, go for a table saw which is large in dimension.

But if you are restricted to a small area in which only half of the space is sufficient for the machine, then it would be better to go for small portable table saws. (e.g. SKILSAW TS811 or DEWALT DWE7491)

3. Analyze Your Budget

When selecting a table saw, the next factor you must look into is the budget. Before going out and buying a table saw, check your budget carefully. You certainly need to spend a good amount to get a good model with basic features for any kind of power tool. 

If you are looking for some professional-grade tools, then it’s always best if you plan on your budget. However, it is crucial to remember that budget should not be the only priority for your purchase. For example, a good-quality table saw with additional features will cost you more.

Summary

A table saw is the most important power tool in any workshop. Therefore, you must look for a table saw with all essential features that will give you quality output. A good suggestion is to consider facts such as easy set up, price range, and additional features to increase the usability of your machine concerned.

There are powerful and durable table saws in the market with features like the skid-proof stand and oscillating elbow. On the other hand, people making occasional DIY projects can also get a portable budget range table saw for their needs. The market is full of premium quality table saws that make work easier while also ensuring safety when working on cabinet tables.